Ford makes history on return
Ford makes history on return
Ford’s dominating performance in Wednesday qualifying combined with Thursday’s horrendous weather clinched a historic pole position for the No.68 Ford GT of Dirk Mueller in the GTE-Pro calss.
Ford will start 1-2-4-5 after qualifying with only the lead AF Corse Ferrari spoiling the Ford party.
In fact, the GTE-Pro battle will be a repeat of the famous Ford versus Ferrari battles from the 60s with Ferrari and Ford filling the top seven spots on the grid.
Sadly for Ford’s chief American rivals Corvette Racing – the 2015 race winners and the fastest car from the Le Mans test day from two weeks ago will actually start last and second last on Saturday, more than 4.5 seconds off the pole time.
Mueller shares the pole-winning machine with American ace Joey Hand and local Le mans-born Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais.
“We weren’t getting any luck in that first qualifying session,” Mueller explained about his Wednesday performance.
“When Joey (Hand) was in the car he had traffic and then a red flag and all the time the clock was ticking. Then SÃ©bastien (Bourdais) got in and there was traffic again.
“Finally with just 15 minutes of the session left I did my first lap and the car felt really good. I was also hitting a lot of traffic but then Mike O’Gara (team manager for #68 and #69) came on the radio and said ‘hey, you have one more lap, you can do it.’
“It was a cool lap and it was one for the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing boys. I’m really proud of everybody. Just being here is a big honour for all of us. To compete in the Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing on this important anniversary is a privilege.”
In the US versus Europe inter-team Ford battle it was the Americans who triumphed with the top two cars run by the Ganassi team that competes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The FIA WEC Multimatic-run cars were fourth and fifth in qualifying.
Risi Competizione were seventh fastest in their return to Le Mans while the Corvette Racing squad was 13th and 14th – the No.64 winning entry from last year eclipsing the No.63 car.
Fortunately for Corvette Racing, they did not have a repeat of 2015 where only Corvette started the race after Jan Magnussen crashed thanks to a stuck throttle.
Pole in the GTE-Am class went to the Clearwater Racing Ferrari headed by British GT ace Rob Bell.
The @CGRsportscar teams are a pretty happy bunch tonight #LeMans24 #FordLeMans #polewinner pic.twitter.com/nASsXykvqt
— Ford Performance (@FordPerformance) June 17, 2016
The #68FordGT wins the LM GTE Pro pole with a qualifying time of 3:51.185! @FordPerformance @muellerdirk #LeMans24 pic.twitter.com/VGO2H7WjQE
— CGR SportsCar (@CGRsportscar) June 16, 2016
Yes it’s Pole for us #68FordGT #lemans24 @24hoursoflemans Big thx to everybody #oneteam @CGRTeams @FordPerformance pic.twitter.com/liOTYTTrMm
— Dirk MÃ¼ller Racing (@muellerdirk) June 16, 2016